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Parole Board criticizes conclusions of watchdog investigation

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Posted at 3:22 PM, Jul 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-31 15:22:33-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Virginia Parole Board is refuting the results of a government watchdog investigation into the way it handled the release of a man who killed a Richmond police officer, though we still don’t know exactly what that investigation uncovered.

In a statement posted on its official website Friday, the Board said it was unable to comment on the details in the state inspector general’s report, but claimed that his conclusions were “based on factual inaccuracies, a misunderstanding of the Parole Board’s procedures, and incorrect interpretations of the Virginia State Code.”

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) sent CBS 6 a copy of the letter that was sent to Virginia’s Public Safety Secretary Brian Moran, detailing the findings of the investigation. But almost every single line of the version sent to us had been redacted.

However, unredacted portions of the letter stated that the investigation was based on multiple complaints, and that State Inspector General Michael Westfall found the allegations to be substantiated. The bottom of the letter informed Moran that Westfall would outline potential recommendations in a subsequent report.

State Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) has sent a letter to the OSIG requesting an unredacted copy of the report, and is calling upon Governor Ralph Northam to release it to the public.

As CBS 6 first reported earlier this year, OSIG’s investigation focused on the recent parole of Vincent Lamont Martin, who had been serving a life sentence for shooting and killing RPD Patrolman Michael Connors in 1979.

Connors’s family said they were shocked when they learned of the Board’s decision to release Martin, and told CBS 6 that they had not been given the proper notification and opportunity to contest his release.

Martin’s release was delayed twice, but he was ultimately set free in June.